India’s Elections: World’s Largest Democracy Fracturing
To say that India is fracturing isn’t groundbreaking news, its geography alone sustains cleavages that most nation states just simply couldn’t sustain. With rivers running along an east-west continental strain and sidewinding railways, Indian consciousness was always turned inward towards the tip of its Oceanic peninsula; its back facing the Himalayas, its face toward the littoral, Indian consciousness is best embodied in its non-alignment posture. A forced inward bound self-consciousness was broken in the northwest frontier. It was Maulana Azad’s memoirs revealing the geologic design dominating British perfidy at having Mountbatten place two rival dominant Muslim majorities on India’s only continental openings (today’s Pakistan & Bangladesh).
Why does this matter? By any calculation, India’s largest state, the Uttar Pradesh (UP) is home to nearly 200 million Indian Muslims. The complexity of its politics, its plethora of faiths, castes, political allegiances cannot be contained in language. It is best embodied and told by the overt garish nepotism, the boisterous rank criminality of UP rent-seeking. This raucous has affinity perhaps only in the Israeli Knesset.
Uttar Pradesh’s state capital is Lucknow. Home to India’s lower house chamber called Lok Sabha, and India’s upper chamber, the Rajya Sabha. Both had landslides favoring Modi in 2014. This sweeping majority rule upended socialist majorities of the Indian Congress Party, an unlikely policy shift that no one foresaw.
Now with upcoming elections scheduled for six weeks beginning in late February, Modi’s BJP party hints at a looming defeat. It wasn’t fore ordained. Having the State Assembly Houses in Lucknow thwart the 2014 BJP landslide by minuscule majorities in the upper chamber is now about to play open to the Congress Party, effectively killing off market based reforms initiated by Modi.
Modi isn’t up for election again until 2019 where he will seek another five year term. Until then, Modi’s BJP party has to count on overwhelming majorities in UP and five other smaller states (Manipur, Punjab, Goa, and Uttarakhand.) If he succeeds, Modi’s Party can unleash a Hindu-Nationalist agenda that will violently envelop oligarchs in Lucknow upper chamber the Rajya Sabha.
Either way a fight to the death dominates India’s political economy and with it, a chance to address Islamabad’s civil-military relations, an emerging nationalist Beijing and militant Islamists moving down from McKinder’s Heartland, Central Asian nomads that can easily constrain both Moscow & Washington.
The gloves are off; my money’s on Modi.
Originally published on William Holland’s blog.